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SV9CVY - Big Gun of Crete

SV9CVY - The Big Gun of Crete

I remember when I visited Crete for the first time some 20 years ago, the Amateur Radio activity in the island was quite limited. The island is very long and it is almost impossible to see entire Crete during a week, which is what most holiday-makers spend here. Around Easter 2017 I decided to come back to Crete, and this time to the eastern part in order to see places I had missed on my first stay. And the number of active operators has grown manyfold. I recall when I became interested in Amateur Radio in early 1960's, the only stations in Crete were those at the naval base of Souda using the SV0 prefix. Today there are between 200 and 300 SV9 licensees in the island, most of them gathered around the local radio club in the main town Iraklio. Why is Crete a separate DXCC entity? I do not know. I guess one needs help of a shrewd lawyer to interpret the rules. I do not care, I am interested in the people who share our hobby, not in the points and scores.

I was lucky, this time, to be able to visit a few active radio amateurs in Crete. The most impressive station I saw belongs to Mikhail, SV9CVY. This is fascinating story of perseverance, endurance and determination with a touch of technical skill. Mike received his licence in 1987 when he was about 30 years old. He had lived, studied and worked for a period of time in New York, USA. Amateur Radio was becoming popular in Greece at that time, but it was not his main interest. Unfortunately, a few years later he was a victim of a traffic accident while riding a motorcycle in Athens. His life has changed completely, but Mike has not given up. Today, almost 60 years old, while permanently disabled and reliant on a wheelchair, he lives a very active life. The Amateur Radio plays important role in his life, but is not his only passion.

The present antenna farm at SV9CVY consists of 4 antenna towers. In the past 20 years, Mike has constructed and installed many large antennas. He is well aware of the importance of large and efficient radiators. He showed me a number of archive photographs showing broken, bent and dismembered antennas and rotators. His QTH is on a slope facing the North, but the most dangerous winds are those coming from Africa. The mountain range running from the East to the West is not protecting those living on the northern coast of Crete. On the contrary, the winds from the south are stronger after they have passed the mountain ridge. The air masses are pressed against the obstacle, and when released, the wind velocity is higher.

The radio room is filled with modern commercial equipment and a number of home-made units. It seems to be a messy shack, but after all, a real radio amateur is always experimenting and modifying everything - that is the idea of our hobby. This is not the right place for a guest operator to jump in, yet Mike has in the past hosted some contesters from other countries.

Mike lives a few kilometres from Rethymno, the historical town about halfway between the eastern and western tips of Crete. This island is considered to be the cradle of the present day European civilisation.

The photographs

The four antenna towers of SV9CVY.

Mike, SV9CVY with one of his dogs at the VHF antenna tower carrying both 50 MHz and 144 MHz arrays.

A maze of steel and aluminium at SV9CVY.

The operating position of SV9CVY.

Not easy to find the right switch or knob, but I have full control of everything from 160 meters to 2 meters - says Mike, SV9CVY.

The view from the terrace, open path to the USA, Europe and Japan.

Text and photographs Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF
May 2017